PRINCETON, WV, March 15, 2012:   Oakvale teachers and residents turned out Monday evening [Marcy 12] to see the preliminary designs for their new school as architect Todd Browning showed slides in the school gym.

Once completed, the 23,000 square foot building will contain new classrooms, media center, kitchen/dining suite, and offices, and adjoin the present gymnasium.

The building’s façade will have a gabled roof and brick detailing suggestive of the original look.  “There are certain things about the old school that we don’t want to duplicate but certainly want to hold in our memory,” Boggess explained.  “At one time, the front of the old building really looked good, but over the years conditions changed and services had to be added.”

Projected to serve 150 students, Oakvale School is smaller than the projects that WV School Building Authority typically funds.  The two-story masonry building will include 1 classroom each for grades Pre-K through 3 on the entry level, and one classroom each for grades 4-5 on the lower level.  Classrooms for special needs students will be located on both floors. 

Boggess believes the cantilevered windows on the back of the building and multiple vertical planes on the front will create interest and the appearance of a little streetscape.  The building’s design will also accommodate practical features like a separate pick-up area for Pre-K and kindergarten students, an air-lock entry into the office suite, increased classroom storage areas, and plenty of natural lighting.

Carmen Stauffer asked Boggess and school administrators when demolition of the old structure would begin. “We would like to take bids by late spring and have the project under contract by June,” Superintendent Deborah Akers said.  “And we’d like to have the kids removed to temporary classrooms for no more than a year.  Of course, when you have a project of this sort, there are usually some bumps in the road that you can’t predict.” 

Boggess explained that one of the first steps would be to get heating into the gym wing by early October of 2012.  During construction, students will use the classrooms below and behind the gym.  A mobile kitchen will be brought to the site, and children will have lunch on the gymnasium stage.

Oakvale Principal Dr. Ernie Adkins said he feels very comfortable with the plan for next year.  “Every grade will have a regular, normal classroom space.  I feel very good about the instructional space.”

udience members asked Boggess about a proposed new access road to the back of the completed school from the left, in light of the school’s past history of flooding. “The road will be built up,” he said, “to keep the road dry and afford protection to rooms behind and beneath the gym.”

Dr. Adkins explained that the pre-K playground, now behind the gym, will be relocated to another area of campus. 

“The school really sits on a beautiful piece of land,” Boggess interjected.  “Although the grounds behind the school are covered in asphalt now, they could be transformed into a very nice, semi-protected green area for the students and teachers – almost like a natural amphitheatre.”

“It’s really beautiful,” second-grade teacher Stacie Ruble said.  “It’s almost unbelievable to think that we will get this.  My students are even looking forward to next year and the excitement of being in a new classroom for a year.”

School administrators would like to have the new building finished and open for school by the fall of 2013.